“Alan Rogers. The Child Cases: How America’s Religious Exemption Laws Harm Children”
Schoepflin, Rennie B. “Alan Rogers. The Child Cases: How America’s Religious Exemption Laws Harm Children.” American Historical Review 120, no. 4 (2015): 1522–24.
Schoepflin’s review acknowledges the relevance of Rogers’s study of America’s religious exemption from vaccination in light of the then-current 2015 measles outbreak in the United States—even though Rogers primarily uses case studies of Christian Science practice from 30–35 years prior to his study to argue his case that children are harmed by exemption laws. Schoepflin quotes Rogers’s argument that “legal and constitutional struggle over whether a religious belief may trump a generally applicable and neutral law prohibiting child abuse and neglect…” and that a “child’s death rationalized by a potentially harmful religious practice [Christian Science healing] erodes commitment to the rule of law” and nullifies “Americans’ moral responsibility to protect defenseless children” (1523a, quoting Rogers, 5–6). Schoepflin notes that all the case studies from the 1980s present an exhaustive and insightful legal history. Although he recognizes that what is reasonable to a minority community (Christian Science) is not inherently unreasonable, he does think that the problem is partly self-made by the Christian Scientists’ unbending defense despite their church founder Mary Baker Eddy’s more pliable example. Schoepflin criticizes Rogers for not providing any causative evidence for his conclusion that tolerance erodes commitment to the rule of law.
Print ISSN: 0002-8762
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